The Importance of the Resurrection.
Why is the resurrection of Jesus Christ so important?
What would it mean if there was no resurrection?
What does it mean if there is a resurrection?
Well first of all, let us look at a few verses in the Acts of the Apostles.
In verse chapter 17, we find the Apostle Paul preaching in Athens.
Act 17:1 Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where was a synagogue of the Jews:
Act 17:2 And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures,
Act 17:3 Opening and alleging, that Christ must needs have suffered, and risen again from the dead; and that this Jesus, whom I preach unto you, is Christ.
The Apostle was preaching the resurrection of Jesus from the dead.
Now this was a brand new teaching. No religion taught that their teachers had died and been raised from the dead. This was beyond
normal belief. Unless one actually sees someone being raised from the dead, then there is no proof of resurrection.
Jesus body was placed in the tomb and a stone was rolled in front of it.
The tomb was guarded by Roman soldiers and yet Jesus body disappeared.
Even the disciples found it hard to accept this truth at the beginning. Even though Jesus had spoken to them about His rising from the dead.
Mat 20:17 And Jesus going up to Jerusalem took the twelve disciples apart in the way, and said unto them,
Mat 20:18 Behold, we go up to Jerusalem; and the Son of man shall be betrayed unto the chief priests and unto the scribes, and they shall condemn him to death,
Mat 20:19 And shall deliver him to the Gentiles to mock, and to scourge, and to crucify him: and the third day he shall rise again.
There were many times that Jesus had spoken of His rising from the dead.
John 2:18-22 So the Jews answered and said to him, 'What sign do you show to us, since you do these things?' Jesus answered and said to them, 'Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.' Then the Jews said, 'It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will you raise it up in three days?' But he was speaking of the temple of his body. When therefore he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he said this; and they believed the Scripture, and the word which Jesus had spoken.
Matthew 12:39-40 An evil and adulterous generation craves for a sign; and yet no sign shall be given to it but the sign of Jonah the prophet; for just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the sea monster, so shall the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth
Matthew 16:21 From that time Jesus began to show to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day.
Mary Magdalene was the very first person to believe in Jesus resurrection from the dead.
It is interesting that the first person that Jesus first showed Himself to, was a woman, who had been delivered from seven demons.
Maybe the disciples found it hard to accept this truth from someone who they considered to have suffered from mental problems.
They might have thought her grief played tricks on her mind and she really didn’t see Jesus, she just wished she had.
Many people with mental illness or addictions in our society have the same problem. Even after getting help for their condition, many of their family and friends still remember their past and take what they say with a grain of salt, waiting to see if they are really healed or not.
Whether or not, this was the case, His disciples didn’t believe her at first. Jesus also showed himself to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus and when they returned, the other disciples didn’t believe them at first either.
The proof only came to the disciples in the upper room when Jesus appeared amongst them.
Even then, Thomas had his doubts.
Only after Jesus showed his wounds did Thomas believe.
Jesus actually rebuked his disciples for their unbelief.
However, we do find that there were some that did believe Paul’s preaching
Act 17:4 And some of them believed, and consorted with Paul and Silas; and of the devout Greeks a great multitude, and of the chief women not a few.
There were also those that rejected his message and acted with unbelief and violence.
Act 17:5 But the Jews which believed not, moved with envy, took unto them certain lewd fellows of the baser sort, and gathered a company, and set all the city on an uproar, and assaulted the house of Jason, and sought to bring them out to the people.
There are many today that scoff at the idea that Jesus literally rose from the dead. Even some professing Christians cannot accept this truth.
Of course the whole idea of resurrection is hard, even impossible. And that's the point. If Jesus was sick and just got better, if He had just swooned or fainted as some believe, it would not prove much. We see Paul preaching and giving an explanation of the resurrection in the Corinthian church.
1Co 15:3 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;
1Co 15:4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:
1Co 15:5 And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve:
1Co 15:6 After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep.
7 After that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles.
8 Then last of all He was seen by me also, as by one born out of due time.
Christianity teaches that its Founder is living today! No other religion of the world makes such a startling claim. Other religions may claim that the "spirit" of their founder lives on today in his religious teachings, but Christianity claims that its Founder, Jesus Christ, lives today--bodily! Christianity teaches that there is a man in heaven, sat at the right side of God and that one day He will return to judge the living and the dead.
Biblical Christianity teaches that Jesus Christ really died but then arose physically (not just spiritually) from the grave, and presented Himself alive to many different people on many different occasions over a period of 40 days.
Acts 1:3: to whom He also presented Himself alive after His suffering by many infallible proofs, being seen by them during forty days and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God.
Christianity further teaches that after these undeniable physical appearances, Jesus Christ left this earth bodily and promised to return physically some day.
Notice: This same Jesus.
John 14:1-3 1 "Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me.
2 In My Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.
3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.
Acts 1:9-11 Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight.
10 And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel,
11 who also said, "Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven."
So, what would it mean if there was no resurrection?
1Co 15:13 But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen:
Well, if Christ is not risen then He is still dead and He is no different than any other religious teacher, such as Mohammad, Bhudda, Krishna, etc, who all died and stayed dead.
He could have been a good man, a great teacher, a great healer, even a worker of miracles but He could not be the Saviour and He would not have fulfilled the Old Testament prophecies concerning the Messiah.
The Jews have a problem with Isaiah 53 because it speaks of a suffering servant.
Many Jews say that this passage is referring to Israel as the suffering servant, even though this is talking about "a man".
3 He is despised and rejected by men, A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.
4 Surely He has borne our griefs And carried our sorrows; Yet we esteemed Him stricken, Smitten by God, and afflicted.
5 But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed.
Who else but Jesus of Nazareth, could this be referring to?
6 All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.
7 He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, And as a sheep before its shearers is silent, So He opened not His mouth.
8 He was taken from prison and from judgment, And who will declare His generation? For He was cut off from the land of the living; For the transgressions of My people He was stricken.
9 And they made His grave with the wicked-- But with the rich at His death, Because He had done no violence, Nor was any deceit in His mouth.
10 Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief. When You make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days, And the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in His hand.
11 He shall see the labor of His soul, and be satisfied. By His knowledge My righteous Servant shall justify many, For He shall bear their iniquities.
When this passage is compered to the events in the New Testament, there is only one conclusion that one can come to.
When John the Baptist saw Jesus, he said.
John 1:29 Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.
Paul goes on to explain that if Christ is not risen, we are of all men most miserable, Why?
1 Co 15:19 If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.
Even if Jesus had taken our sin on His body on the cross, what would be the point. We would have our sins forgiven but we would just die without eternal life.
Without the resurrection, there would be no eternal life.
Jesus rose from the dead to defeat death and become the first fruits of them that sleep.
1 Co 15:20 But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.
If this is not true, then the preaching of the Gospel would be useless and in vain and there would be no need for faith, because there would be nothing to look for.
1Co 15:14 And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain.
What does it mean if there is a resurrection?
First, it assures our future resurrection.
Because Jesus both died and rose again, we will be raised like Him.
1 Corinthians 15:20 says, “But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.”
The word firstfruits speaks of a sampling, a foretaste, a glimpse. Jesus is the firstfruit of those who have died.
Jesus rose from the dead and received a new glorified body.
Because Jesus has died and has risen, we know that our resurrected bodies in some way will resemble His resurrection body. To what extent, we cannot be certain. But if they were completely like His, it would mean that we would be clearly recognizable.
Phil 3:21 Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.
Second. The resurrection of Jesus is a proof of future judgment. Now that may not sound all that exciting, but it’s something we need to know. We live in a society, and indeed a world, in which justice is
often perverted and neglected. We look at things that happen and say, “How can that be? How could that happen?” The Resurrection means, among other things, that God’s justice will ultimately prevail.
Acts 10:42 "And He ordered us to preach to the people, and solemnly to testify that this is the One who has been appointed by God as Judge of the living and the dead.
Acts 17:31 because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead."
John 5:22 "For not even the Father judges anyone, but He has given all judgment to the Son,
Third, the resurrection of Christ gives us power to live the Christian life. Certainly the Bible does not teach that we will be sinless in this physical body we now live in. On the other hand, we can sin less, not by our own abilities, but by the power of the Spirit.
Rom 8:11 But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.
Fourth, because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, not only are we raised from the dead spiritually at our new birth but we shall also be raised physically from the dead if we die before His return. We shall be raised and given a new glorified body.
1Th 4:13 But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.
1Th 4:14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.
1Th 4:15 For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.
1Th 4:16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:
1Th 4:17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.
1Th 4:18 Wherefore comfort one another with these words.
Like Job, we declare: 'I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand on the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see him – with my own eyes – I and not another. How my heart yearns within me' (Job 19: 25-27).
Tim Keller at the Gospel Coalition conference in 2013 made an intriguing statement – resurrection makes Christianity the most irritating religion on earth. Why is that? Because you can argue about ethics, doctrines, rituals until you are blue in the face – people are free to believe what they want. But the Resurrection means everything is changed. If Christ is not raised, Christians are to be pitied for wasting our lives. But if Christ is raised it would be insane to ignore him and his claims.
As Michael Green says: 'The Resurrection, therefore, is the place to begin if you are looking for a satisfying faith on which to base your life. Do not waste a lot of time investigating every religion under the sun from animism to Hinduism. Examine the evidence for the resurrection of Jesus instead. If he is risen you need look no further.'
Romans 10:9 that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.